About Me

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North Lawrence, New York, United States
I can be described as lover of life, an animal lover, and lover of education. I am constantly striving for knowledge and learning opportunities. I've been around horses my entire life. I enjoy working with horses and their human partners through natural horsemanship philosophies, natural balance bare foot hoof care, reiki, red-light therapy, essential oils, aromatherapy, crystal healing, chromotherapy, flower essences, and more. I am a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Teacher who offers treatments for people, horses, dogs, cats, and other creatures great and small. I also teach Reiki classes for those interested in learning how to treat themselves, their loved ones, and even their animals! Natural Horse Lover Farm is located in Northern New York between the St. Lawrence River and Adirondack Mountains. Heaven on Earth. naturalhorseloverfarm.com

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Eight Principles...Horses Do Teach People

I am always amazed how animals teach us all sorts of things about them and about ourselves. Lola and I are really starting to bond and she is starting to trust me and my leadership. This post is a little glimpse into our new world.

In Virginia, my horses lived on the mountain and at feeding time (for grain and supplements) they would each run down and go to their respective trees (always the same ones). They were haltered and tied using a Parelli halter & lead line, and a Blocker Tie Ring (aka Aussie Tie Ring). They were taught to flex to be haltered, stand quietly & politely, backed a few steps via porcupine game (and initially yo-yo for support), and then move forward when given an allow cue to eat. This was instilled in them as a way to not only assert leadership but, to make feeding time calm and safe environment for everyone. Now, Fosse and Whiskey, at feeding time don't need to be tied as our situation here is different and frankly, there know what their responsibility is. They go to their respective feeding stations and stand quietly (Fosse does fuss a bit verbally at me), anyhow, they wait for their meals at liberty and at any time, I can ask very softly for a back and they always do it. Even just as recent as last night, Whiskey saw me coming and offered a few steps back before he was fed. It is all so very nice.

Now we get to dear, sweet, new to the herd, Lola who is fairly defensive at feeding time. And so, I initially was trying to ask for a back at liberty at feeding time as a way to once again assert leadership, set her up for success with the assertion of a simple expectation. Her response was to try to push through me or to turn around and go chase someone else out of their dish and run away, she has also thrown her head in the air to escape me and my request. I've tried to wrestle with her and use blocks but overall would not call any of that successful. And then, it hit me, I didn't teach her what I wanted in the first place, I just made an assumption that she'd know or figure it out- wrong! I was being completely unfair. I had taught the others online first (remember online is for teaching and liberty is the test for the truth). And therefore, I was truly violating a trust and our relationship. I had never properly communicated to her my desire for her to calm down, back, stand, etc. And so, a few days ago, I started our feeding session by haltering Lola. I asked for a flex and got it, I could not tie her as there is no way to tie in our current barn (not safely anyway) and so, I draped the line over the panel that held her dish. I went to get her meal and when I returned, I used the lead with a little yo-yo and combined with a porcupine to the chest. I started with phase one and realized very quickly that it took barely any energy to get what I wanted. It was light and right. There was no fighting, no wrestling no head tossing, no opposition reflex at all, none of it. I was talking to Lola using the language of the horse and she was understanding me. I have been working on this and although we are not quite ready for liberty, we are getting there. This exercise is definitely improving and it is helping her mood at feeding time too.

Lola has taught me time and time again (as have my other horses) that if I take the time it takes, use the right tools, and communicate, the results are what is desired and everyone is happy. I need to remember to not rush things, no not make assumptions, and that this is a life-long learning process. This entire experience is saturated with the "Eight Principles." And so, I wish to take a moment to remind you of them:

Eight Principles

  1. Horsemanship is natural.

  2. Don’t make or teach assumptions.

  3. Communication is two or more individuals sharing and understanding an idea.

  4. Horses and humans have mutual responsibilities.

  5. The attitude of justice is effective.

  6. Body language is the universal language.

  7. Horses teach humans and humans teach horses.

  8. Principles, purpose, and time are the tools of teaching


Lisa said...

Isn't it funny how we sometimes forget that "teaching" part?

Feeding at the barn where I board, I am constantly teaching the horses how to behave at feeding time. One mare has been there for about two months and at first she couldn't control herself when I would start prepping feed. I had to teach her that her interruptions made things take longer. Now she nickers but stands with relative calm while I prep feed.

Naturally Gaited said...

Very insightful post. Thanks, Michelle!